If you’re thinking of buying a pepper spray but don’t know where to begin, you’re in luck because, in this guide, we’ll review the TOP 11 Best pepper sprays that are currently available on the market. Whether you’re buying a pepper spray for yourself or as a gift for a loved one, you’ll learn what to look for when shopping, how it works, and how to use one effectively. Read on to find out how to narrow your choices and buy the best option for your self-defense kit!
- What is a pepper spray and what to look for when shopping for one
- How pepper spray works
- Legal issues
- Types of pepper sprays
- TOP 11 best pepper sprays
- Tips and lifehacks
- Pros and Cons
Coming home late from a party in a strange and unfamiliar neighborhood can be daunting and dangerous. You can learn judo, aikido, and jujitsu, and try to fend off assailants with your fighting skills, or you can buy a self-defense weapon and completely neutralize the attacker by spraying pepper aerosol on his face and run away. Or you can try to employ the combination of those two methods; either way, you need to know how and when to protect yourself. This article will guide you through all aspects of buying one of those self-defense devices that can save your life. You’ll learn everything there is to know about pepper sprays and how to use them effectively.
Pepper spray is a chemical agent consisting mainly of capsaicin that’s used in policing and self-defense. Different manufacturers have different amounts of active ingredient in produced sprays. And since statements that manufacturers make about the product strength are not regulated, it can be a challenge to figure the real contents of the product.
- Personal pepper sprays can have from 0.18% to 3% of capsaicinoids, whereas sprays used in police forces range from 1.3% to 2%.
- The OC (oleoresin capsicum) percentage that manufacturers put on the labels measures only the amount of chili oil extract and not its strength.
- Other companies might show SHU (Scoville Heat Unit) value, which shows how hot the spray is, or how effective that pepper component is going to be.
- When deciding which pepper spray to buy, look for SHU over OC values, as it is more important and shows the real effectiveness of the spray.
- The other component to look for is the carrier of the spray, either water or oil-based. Oil-based is preferred because it would be much more difficult for an assailant to wipe it off his skin.
- Another important factor to consider is the size of the spray, but it’s relatively straightforward and obvious: choose a smaller can for outdoor use, a slightly bigger one for your car, and a huge container for home defense.
A pepper spray is an inflammatory agent that causes an immediate closing of the eyes, temporary blindness, difficulty breathing, runny nose, and coughing. The effect lasts from 20 to 90 minutes depending on the strength of the spray. The pepper spray is usually non-lethal but can become deadly if used on an asthmatic person.
Pepper spray is legal in all states with some varying restrictions depending on a person’s age, strength, contents, and usage in certain circumstances.
For example, you cannot carry a pepper spray on a commercial airline; use it as a defense in verbal abuse or to prevent theft. The only situations you are allowed to use a pepper spray are to prevent physical threats and bodily harm. Some other restrictions might include the prohibition of use by a minor (less than 16 or 18 years of age in some states) and convicted felons. Please, check with the law enforcement in your area to make sure when and how you can use pepper spray in your state. For instance, in NY, according to NY Penal Law, you cannot buy a pepper spray online or by mail order; you can, however, purchase it through a local pharmacy or a licensed firearm retailer.
The pepper sprays differ according to the delivery system they employ: stream, spray (fogger/cone), foam or gel.
Stream pepper sprays discharge the liquid in a linear direction around 14 ft from you to the attacker. The stream is the most popular and efficient spray because you can directly see the stream of the spray, where it’s headed, and control it to the precise area of the attacker’s face. This type can be best employed when there’s a space between you and the attacker. It also buys you some reactionary time, because if the spray doesn’t stop the attacker, you can try to run away, turn on a personal alarm, or use any other type of self-defense.
Fogger type, as the name suggests, disperses the spray around the attacker. You don’t have to be so precise at targeting the attacker’s face with this type since the spray will spread out from the can and cover a wide area. The particles of the spray will linger around in the air for some time and if you fail to spray it directly on the attacker’s face and he’s moving around, once he gets into the spray fog, the attacker will feel the spray’s full potency. On the downside, if used outdoors, in the windy weather, the spray can blow back to you and you’ll feel the effects of the pepper spray.
What’s good about the last type of pepper spray, namely foam and gel, is that when delivered to the attacker’s face, it becomes sticky, and when the attacker tries to get it off his skin, it heightens the potency of the spray, agitates the skin, and gets into the pores.
Another typology of pepper sprays that you can find basically differentiates them into 3 categories: CS, CN, and OC. CS and CN are tear gases, whereas OC is a genuine pepper spray that inflames the mucous membranes. CS and CN sprays might also take a while to take full effect, while OC spray has an immediate effect.
Now let’s look at the TOP 11 best pepper sprays that are available on the market. We’re going to learn a little bit about each, cover their main differentiating features and limitations. Here you’ll find all patterns of sprays: gel, fogger, stream. We’ll also cover the stylish devices for women, police strength pepper sprays for brutal men, gadgets specifically designed for runners, spray guns with max shooting range of 25 ft and special UV Dye that would help police identify your assailant.
SABRE 3-in-1 Pepper Spray Police Strength
This bestselling pepper spray is made in the US, fully certified, and widely used in police forces across the country. The spray uses the stream delivery system with an impressive 10 ft range and can be used up to 35 times (35 busts in total). The 3 in 1 formula features the combination of pepper spray, military tear gas, and UV marking dye (for suspect identification).
It clips easily to the belt or pocket, however, can’t be attached to a keychain. What’s really cool about this thing is that you’ll receive a free training video explaining to you how to use this particular spray properly and more effectively.
Sabre’s potency is backed up by 1.33% of capsaicinoids in its contents. SHU value is 2,000,000, which is an industry average. But the Net SHU, which is calculated in relation to OC percentage and SHU combined, is 200,000, which is by far superior to the competition.
Majority of respondents who tested the gadget seemed to be really pleased and impressed with its performance. Those, who were left rather unimpressed, often complained of the quality of the spray, especially the safety cap, that was supposed to protect against accidental discharges but didn’t.
If you’re on a tight budget, wear a belt, and doesn’t care much about the design of things you carry around, then this device is worth considering.
SABRE RED Kuros! Pepper Spray – for women with a keychain, 10 ft
This is yet another bestselling Sabre device. However, it targets mainly female demographics. It’s nicely shaped and colored and comes with a key ring. The delivery system is a stream, the same as in the previously described spray. It works within 10 ft and delivers up to 25 bursts. It also comes with the free training video that will teach you how to use pepper spray effectively.
The nice thing about this spray is that the portion of the proceeds from the sales goes to a charitable organization that distributes free pepper sprays for women in developing nations.
This is not a 3-in-1 device, so it comes without the military tear gas component, but still has 1.33% major capsaicinoids with and a UV marking dye.
The device is slightly more expensive than the previously described model from Sabre, but it’s still relatively cheap. Customers are overwhelmingly pleased with the product, with few detractors saying they received a defective product and the company didn’t accept any returns.
SABRE RED Pepper Gel – 18 ft
Sabre Red Pepper Gel employs gel rather than foam, fog, or stream delivery. The major advantage is the greater distance that this device covers, namely 18 feet. The device comes with a belt holster for ease of use but doesn’t have a key ring, in case you’d like to wear it on a keychain. The device can be used up to 18 times. As with other Sabre devices, the product features 1.33% major capsaicinoids, 2,000,000 SHU, and 10% OC, with net SHU being 200,000.
The device has also received a lot of positive feedback from consumers, but yet, there were those, who complained about receiving a faulty product.
Overall, being a little bit more expensive, than other Sabre products, this one is still worth recommending, especially, if you prefer a gel delivery over stream.
SABRE RED Pepper Gel Spray for Runners with Adjustable Hand Strap, 12 ft
If you’re a fan of jogging and looking for an affordably priced pepper spray that you can use while on the go, look no further since this Sabre Red Gel Spray is your best bet. It’s immediately accessible because it comes with an adjustable hand strap, which adds practicality and usability to the device, it works within 12 ft and can be used up to 35 times.
As with any Sabre device, you’ll receive a free training video, which is yet another advantage of investing in this device.
This spray has been praised by the consumers, who were often impressed with the performance of the product. The unsatisfied female customers complained that it was difficult to activate. So if you’re a woman or looking for a gift for your daughter or a female friend, then consider investing in other options.
SABRE Red Pepper Spray with Durable Pink Key Case – for women, 10 ft
This lively pinkish device comes with a key ring and a twist lock safety to prevent accidental discharges. There’s a quick release ring that will ensure you use it more quickly and effectively. It works within 10 ft and contains 25 bursts. When activated discharges a powerful stream of gel onto the attacker.
As with any Sabre device, it contains 1.33% capsaicinoids, 2,000,000 SHU, and 10% OC.
Female customers were overwhelmingly pleased with the device, some of them shared terrible stories but with happy endings because they used the device. The unhappy consumers complained that the gadget leaked, looked a bit cheap, or was expired when received. So, as soon as you receive a product, look for the expiry date, try it out and see if it works before you take it with you wherever you intend to go.
The product is priced affordably and fits in the average price range for pepper sprays.
SABRE Red Pepper Spray with a handy key ring – 10 ft
Yet another pinkish device from Sabre with a potency of reaching an attacker within 10 ft. It works up to 25 times, comes with a free training video with instructions, an easily accessible key ring that ensures the can is readily availble while on the go. The portion of sale proceeds goes to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, which is another good reason to invest in the device and contribute to a noble cause.
The women who tested the spray said it was easy to access, maybe even too easy if you were around little kids. Others said that the device could leak and was easily breakable.
SABRE Red Lipstick Pepper Spray – for women, 10 ft
This gadget is my favorite on the list. It looks like a pink lipstick, very stylish and sleek. A little bit more expensive than others in our review, but it’s not critical, and totally worth it.
It covers the same 10 ft, but good only for 10 bursts due to its overly compact size. The lipstick safety cap ensures protection against accidental discharge, the powerful stream under cap is easy to activate.
The female customers posted wonderfully stylish pictures with the gadget and praised both its cuteness and performance alike. Those who were less fortunate said the product arrived defective and it was a pain to exchange it.
Mace Brand Pepper Spray Key Guard Key Chain – 5ft
This is a device from another American brand, Mace. It’s available in two colors, pink and black, in case you’re a male and looking for something for yourself. Mace’s formula contains 10% OC pepper formula, SHU values are not advertised, although I was able to find estimates close to 2,000,000, which is a solid indicator of a spray’s high potency.
It delivers the liquid in a cone spray pattern (that’s not very usable in windy weather). Unfortunately, though, the product works within 5 ft only and works up to 6 bursts.
However, it’s compact, stylish, affordable, and has a key ring for usability. The customers’ response was generally positive, however, a few were concerned that it was difficult to figure out how to use it especially if it was used by a child, and others said it didn’t even reach 5 ft. If you’re buying a spray for your child, maybe it’s best to look at other options.
Mace Brand Self Defense Pepper Spray Gun with Strobe LED – 20 ft
Another top-rated gadget from Mace comes in a pistol shape with LED light and is available in 3 colors in case you don’t have any particular affinity for pink. This one is more potent than the previously described device by Mace since it covers up to 20 ft and contains slightly more bursts, namely up to 7. This gadget is the most expensive on the list, but beside its peculiar shape, it also comes with a few additional perks, like UV Dye that helps police find your assailant. The device has a 10% OC pepper formula, around 2,000,000 SHU and delivers a powerful stream of liquid. All Mace products are water-based, which lessen their potency a bit, but nevertheless, they are still solid products from a reputable American company, which makes them easy to recommend.
POLICE MAGNUM Pepper Spray Pen – 12 ft
If you are in love with James Bond or Ethan Hunt (like me, I am fan of those both), then you will definitely appreciate this gadget. It looks like a pen, but, in fact, is a powerful defence tool that can be easily attached to a pocket. It’s good for up to 5 bursts and reaches up to 12 ft. It weighs only 0.5 ounces but contains 1.4% capsaicinoids, as well as 2,000,000 SHU. It’s made in the US, so there’s nothing to worry about quality-wise.
SABRE Red Pepper Gel – Family, Home & Property Defense Gel with Wall Mount Bracket – 25 ft
This is a huge pepper spray that weighs a pound and a half and is good for home use. As with any SABRE device, it features 1.33% capsaicinoids, 2,000,000 SHU, and 10% OC. This beast also comes with UV marking dye that can help police identify your attacker. The device features impressive 25 ft range and can be used up to 32 times. It delivers a powerful stream of gel which means that it’s good for outdoors too. The gadget has a wall mount bracket to ensure canister is available near you when you need it most. It’s also not as pricey as one can imagine, so won’t break your budget. The testers seemed overwhelmingly impressed with this guy, with some police officers saying they would prefer Taser rather than this on attackers, because SABRE spray is that much inhumane.
- It’s important to get familiar with the spray before you use it (hold it in your hand, see how it works, look for instructional videos on the internet to see how and when to use it more effectively, imagine being confronted by an attacker, and try to activate the device without anyone in the proximity)
- Make sure your device is accessible (when alone, get it from your purse and hold it in your hand all the way through the unfamiliar neighborhood; remember the device would be useless if you leave it at the bottom of your bag)
- It’s important to learn how to properly hold your device. The firm grip is crucial so an attacker won’t get hold of your device before you use it. The fist-like position is also beneficial in case you’ll have to strike your attacker before using the spray.
- Only disarm the device when you are absolutely aware that you’re in a safe place.
- Keep out of reach of children
- Use stream and gel sprays in outdoor situations; use foggers indoors.
- As soon as you spray the liquid, get sideways (side step) quickly and run away. Do not go backwards so the attacker won’t get hold of you by falling on you or trying to grab you; going backward can also make you accidentally slip and fall.
- Allows you to protect yourself from a safe distance
- Serves as a constant reminder to stay alert
- Contains a few shots (bursts) meaning you can use it against multiple assailants
- Doesn’t require a lot of strength to use
- Small and convenient
- Doesn’t require a permit
- You have to have a good aim at where you’re spraying because if you miss, you might not have a second chance
- Although a fogger (cone, spray) delivery is questionable in windy weather, you don’t have to aim at all, just spray it all over the place in circular motions and with particles held up in the air your attacker will get what he deserves
- Some pepper sprays might not be as reliable as you want (always check if it works before taking it with you)
- Accidental discharges can happen
Is pepper spray legal in NY?
Yes, it is, however, you can’t order it by mail or online.
Are pepper spray and mace the same?
Mace is a famous and reputable manufacturer of pepper sprays. There’s also a “mace” that’s spelled with a lower case “m” and sometimes abbreviated as CN, it is a totally different product, and is classified as tear gas.
Are pepper spray allowed on planes?
No, you’re not allowed to carry pepper spray past metal detectors at the airports.
Is pepper spray dangerous?
Yes, it is. Pepper spray is inflammatory and will immediately incapacitate an attacker. However, it’s considered non-lethal.
Is pepper spray edible?
Huh? I think you might be shopping for something else. The pepper sprays we covered in this article are inedible.
Can pepper spray be used on dogs?
Yes, pepper sprays can be used on both humans and dogs.
Can pepper spray make you blind?
Temporarily, yes. Pepper sprays cause eyes to involuntary shut from burning thus, causing temporary blindness.
Can pepper spray expire?
Yes, it can. Please, check the expiry date on the label before use.
Can pepper spray kill?
Yes, it can, if used on an asthmatic person.
Can pepper spray kill a cat?
No, it should not. It works the same ways for cats as it does for dogs and people.
Can pepper spray go bad?
There’s an expiry date on each pepper spray bottle past which the manufacturer doesn’t recommend using the product, usually, it is from 2 to 4 years of shelf life.
Can pepper spray damage eyes?
The body repairs damaged cells in the eye after a while, so there’s nothing to worry about. However, repeated exposure to pepper spray can cause permanent damage to the cornea of the eyes.
Can pepper spray leak?
Yes, in fact, it can and is being reported as the most common issue with pepper sprays.
Can pepper spray burn skin?
Of course. Pepper spray does exactly that: cause the burning sensation.
Can pepper spray be used more than once?
Yes, in fact, it can. The label on the bottle should say exactly how many times you can use it; usually, it’s from 5 to 35 bursts.
How pepper spray is made?
The active ingredient of pepper spray, capsaicin, is obtained from the plants of the genus Capsicum. The peppers are finely ground first and capsaicin is then extracted using ethanol.
What pepper spray does police use?
Sabre is the preferred brand of pepper sprays among the US police force.
What pepper spray is the best?
All of them are pretty good, but depending on the circumstances (indoors/outdoors) some types are more preferable than the others. Use foam, gel, streams for outdoors, and foggers inside.
Where was pepper spray invented?
There are different versions of when, where, and who exactly invented the pepper spray. One of those versions involves Kamran Loghman (USA), inventor and developer of weapons-grade pepper spray technology for law enforcement applications.
Will pepper spray deter a bear?
Yes. The bear pepper spray has to contain at least 1.0% and not more than 2% of capsaicinoids (as determined by the US federal government).
How to make pepper spray at home | WARNING
First off, this is your life we’re talking about, so everything that’s homemade or DIY, although cheap and easy to make at home, might not work. Moreover, the DIY pepper sprays can be dangerous because instead of incapacitating an attacker, they can make him even more aggressive and hostile. And you’ll just end up in a critical situation where those precious minutes that could have bought you time to escape are inextricably lost.
Most of the instructions and videos (like the one below) of homemade sprays would recommend mixing chili powder or flakes with water, alcohol, and oil. And while they might seem like a reasonable trade and cheaper alternative for commercial pepper sprays, they have serious and life-threatening disadvantages.
Life-threatening disadvantages of homemade pepper sprays:
- a shooting range of about 2 inches to 1 ft max (whereas the pro sprays cover from 5 to 25 ft);
- the possibility of oil (or pepper flakes, powder) clogging the spray nozzle which would render your DIY completely useless;
- the need to shake the device before use, thus you’d lose another 2-3 second.
Besides, the commercially available sprays can be bought for as low as 10 dollars but can save your life, which is priceless.
WARNING: Okay, and here’s the video of one of those DIY pepper sprays that will not work and can become dangerous for you.
Comparative chart of Pepper Sprays
|SABRE 3-in-1 Pepper Spray Police Strength||10 ft range
1.33% of capsaicinoids
|SABRE RED Kuros! Pepper Spray ||10 ft range
1.33% of capsaicinoids
|SABRE RED Pepper Gel||18 ft range
1.33% of capsaicinoids
|SABRE RED Pepper Gel Spray for Runners ||12 ft range
1.33% of capsaicinoids
|SABRE Red Pepper Spray with Durable Pink Key Case||10 ft range
|SABRE Red Pepper Spray with a handy key ring||10 ft range
|SABRE Red Lipstick Pepper Spray ||10 ft range
|Mace Brand Pepper Spray Key Guard Key Chain||5 ft range
10% OC pepper formula
|Mace Brand Self Defense Pepper Spray Gun with Strobe LED ||20 ft range
10% OC pepper formula
|POLICE MAGNUM Pepper Spray Pen||12 ft range
|SABRE Red Pepper Gel ||25 ft range
In case you need deterrent sprays for animals, you may buy them here.
Or read our reviews to learn more about the devices that target animals specifically:
Having covered all the best pepper sprays on the market, we are confident that you’ll choose the most reliable option for your self-defense kit. We hope it will keep you safe and well-protected in any situation at any time. Take care of yourself and your loved ones.